In late September, a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) panel released its recommendations in the wake of a 2009 fatal truck accident. These recommendations included three basic steps that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) should take to prevent future accidents.
The accident took place near Miami, Oklahoma, and the FMCSA concluded that the main cause of the accident was driver fatigue. The semi truck driver either did not see or respond to a line of vehicles stopped on the highway. The truck struck the rear of a sport-utility vehicle (SUV), and due to its high speed it continued on, overrode three other vehicles, and pushed the third vehicle into the trailer of a fourth. The driver neither applied his brakes nor performed any other maneuver to avoid the collision, and the truck’s momentum carried it 270 feet past the point of the initial crash, despite the multiple impacts. The crash resulted in the death of ten people and injured six others, including the truck driver himself.
In reviewing this tragic accident, the NTSB identified several methods that could have prevented this accident and should be used to prevent similar actions in the future. These included:
· Fatigue management system
· Collision warning system
· Event recorders
Fatigue management systems are a combination of procedures and technologies that help drivers to get needed rest so they can be alert when they get behind the wheel. The FMCSA has already responded to these concerns by revising its Hours of Service (HoS) regulations. It has also taken the step of requiring electronic monitoring for serious violators of the HOS rules. This is hoped that it will increase compliance.
However, there are still many limitations of the HoS rules. For example, why not make electronic monitoring mandatory? HoS regulations also continue to allow drivers to operate on a 21-hour schedule, which ensures that during a long drive or string of drives, a driver’s circadian rhythm will be disrupted, a key factor in this crash that has been shown again and again to have deadly consequences.
FMCSA rules and regulations are not perfect. They are only a minimum standard that trucking companies must comply with. Any trucking company truly concerned about safety will go above and beyond the minimum, and this is the standard to which trucking companies should be held.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a trucking accident that could have been prevented by reasonable safety practices from a trucking company, the personal injury lawyers of Robert W. Kerpsack, CO, LPA can help you get compensation for your injuries. This will also show companies that doing the minimum is not doing enough for safety. Please call or email us today for a free case evaluation.